First of all, Happy New Year to all Newcastle fans. I trust everyone is well. After taking in all of the festive games, the question that has arisen in my mind after the Manchester United defeat is simple.

How do you solve a problem like Jonjo Shelvey?

Now, I asked the question after the game and some of the responses from my circle that came back, ranged from mild acknowledgement at my thinking, to my argument simply containing a few coincidences. However, there are too many of those coincidences stacking up to simply overlook the matter and not at least question Shelvey’s place in the team, for example the position he actually plays and/or the fact that he’s in the team at all.

Let’s start with a personal opinion, I don’t dislike Jonjo Shelvey. I think he has an outstanding pass on him, a decent shot, is dynamic and robust and as I’ve said elsewhere, if Ayoze Perez continues to misfire and fall about looking for non-existent free kicks, Shelvey could  be deployed further forward and used as a No.10, I certainly see him in a similar mould to a Paul Scholes or a Frank Lampard, if not of the same quality.

His downsides are in my opinion that he’s often a liability, as was displayed with his thigh high assault on Paul Pogba against Manchester United that, if the ref hadn’t seen it, or if a more sterner ref had, he would definitely be looking at a ban coming his way and not for the first time for such affairs.  He’s not a defensive midfielder (which is a polite way of saying he can’t tackle) and if he was pushed further forward it would at least free up some responsibility and allow him to help out where we need it most, which is in attack.

It’s not like he wouldn’t be prevented from playing his great ‘Hollywood’ passes when we are defending set-pieces, which he would obviously be back to defend in any case, it would just free him up to not worry about being in that midfield engine room where his frailties are sometimes exposed.

Another angle which is worth looking at, which some of my fellow supporters labelled as coincidental, was the fact that we have a tendency to drop goals (and points) when Shelvey is on the field and we tend to play more football (and achieve results) when he’s not there, I was a bit shocked at that but it’s true. When he went off in the second half against Watford in November, the ever impressive Ki Sung Yeung came on and supplied the delivery for Perez to score the goal that won the game. The very next match Shelvey missed, Ki played once again and turned in a great performance, playing a great ball out for Kenedy to whip a cross in for Rondon’s second goal and that game easily being our best display of the season.

An impressive victory away at Burnley followed where Shelvey was passed fit to be on the bench but crucially didn’t get on the field throughout. The trick was repeated in the next away fixture where Shelvey once again remained on the bench for the full 90 minutes down at Goodison Park and we came away with a very impressive 1-1 draw. Jonjo was absent completely from the side that beat relegation rivals Huddersfield away from home in mid December.

Shelvey then re-appeared as a 79th minute substitute down at Watford and within three minutes a 1-0 win was turned into a 1-1 draw with more points dropped. Finally on Wednesday, with Newcastle battling their way through against Manchester United, Mo Diame went off to be replaced by Shelvey and in 10 minutes we were a goal down.

Now, there are mitigating circumstances in any scenario. When Shelvey came on against the Mancs, we actually threatened to take the lead through some great passes by the man himself, we were looking dangerous before Martin Dubravka’s fumble. Against West Ham we were collectively awful with Shelvey only coming on when the game was up. We threw a point away against Wolves at St James’ with Jonjo nowhere in sight of the first team and again we were nigh on unwatchable against Fulham two weeks ago with Shelvey absent once again.

Like I’ve said, it’s not wholly the problem of the man (although I would still question his temperament) as much as the position he is played but the question is there to be asked….What do you do to get the best out of Jonjo Shelvey? Sell him? Drop him? Move him around the side?

If you sell him there’s the question of who do you replace him with, if you drop him the same question is there with his natural replacement Ki missing in action for the next few weeks. The only option I can come to is that you move him to that No.10 position and hopefully give Ayoze Perez the rocket that he needs in the process.

With Newcastle faltering, the ‘Shelvey Problem’ is a fair point to be raised. If we are going to survive, it’s going to be by the skin of our teeth. Beggars can’t be choosers and as it is abundantly clear that there will be nowt to spend this window, we are going to have to make do with what we’ve got in some shape or form. This doesn’t fill me with much optimism at all.

We have a chronically underfunded squad with minimal quality, albeit with maximum possible effort. It’s clear that we need a left back, at the same time we need to improve on Ayoze Perez’ form which tends to average two good games in ten. We also need a creative midfielder at some point. I’ve made it clear that I don’t expect to see any new faces come in this month so the left back situation and rectifying the other two aforementioned problems aren’t going to be solved by recruitment.

The only solution is to get the best out of what we’ve got and to do this I feel we urgently need to get to grips with this ‘Shelvey Problem’.

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  • Tommy

    Buy strikers who think on his level, he`s yards ahead of the ones we have,
    they couldn`t hit a barn door. Shelvey isn`t the problem the schitt in front of him is

  • Ba ba.

    Strange one is jonjo.. . Can be excellent and very poor in the same breath.. His goal return from midfield is terrible and I agree he’s playing with substand players that can’t read his passing .. Dare I say it in a decent team like West ham he’d flourish..

    • Kenny

      That is exactly why West Ham want him

    • Kev Newcastle England

      Nail on the head mate.. Sub standard players who cant see his passing.

      • Ba ba.

        Put a excellent pass into yoss a poo tonight right on his toes and the useless c++nt tripped and it bounced away off his shin.
        Jonjo turned the game tonight. As much as I knocked him away to Watford I’m praising him tonight. 👍

  • Hopey

    One of the most lazy players who has a real talent which he has wasted, only ever seen him put in a 100% once in the game with Man U last season

  • mentalman

    I’ve gone on like a broken record since quite erly in the season about a 3 man midfield, we’ve started playing one and we look stronger for it. In the last two games we have played an enforcing midfielder and a box to box midfielder and have dominated the midfield and allowed atsu to get forward to support the attacks.
    This has worked well in both games until hayden or diame have gone off and shelvey has come on.

    I’d like to see shelvey play in the middle with hayden and diame which will take away 75% of shelveys defensive duties and allow him to orchestrate our attacks

    • Kenny

      We keep losing mate no matter what the formation and as Jonjo hasn`t played in months dropping the last 2 results on his toes is bordering on the insane

      • mentalman

        I’m not blaming jonjo per se its the change in the dynamic of the midfield when he comes on which has led to the last two defeats in my opinion. We go from the defence being well protected to it being left unprotected which again isn’t jj’s fault as thats not what he is about and is the main weakness of his game.

    • To play 3 in midfield we need 2 more midfielders on the bench.
      We haven’t got them.

      • mentalman

        Rafa has done a good job adapting atsu to play in a central role and if we had someone to play at left wing back i think ritchie could do a goid job in a midfield 3.

        Clark and schar are both allegedly able to play in midfield to

  • Mr_Kinnear

    Give perez away. Play Shelvey further forward. What is the worst than can happen, another defeat?

  • DeadToiler

    He can look great but it’s never really worked consistently. Probably best for him to move at the end of the season.

  • Rob

    Sell him!!! That’s how you deal with him. Constantly giving himself & the club a bad image, let him go & be someone else’s problem.

    • Wor Lass

      So, nobody else in the PL puts in about two pi$$ poor tackles a season, then?

      • Rob

        You for real? He’s been sent off 3times since he’s joined us, banned a few extra times for off the ball incidents. He just doesn’t learn at all. He’s not hard working either, he’s constantly at fault for goals through not tracking back or putting a foot in. I don’t dislike him, but he’s no good for the club, if he worked harder for the team & contributed more to the team then I would forgive all that but he isn’t, he’s just a liability. We always end up with a player like this barton, bowyer, batty etc….. But at least they worked hard for the team every single game.

  • Wor Lass

    Small point, maybe: “the ever impressive Ki Sung Yeung …” He had a couple of excellent games early doors but I`d say he`s been a bit lacklustre since then, Paul. Admittedly, I don`t go to games and have to rely on “lowlights”, what my mates say and match reports but he`s been as anonymous as the rest lately by the sound of it.

    • Kenny

      He has & i`ve watched every match.

      • Wor Lass

        Don`t get me wrong, the lad`s decent but – like Muto – he`s way over-hyped.

        • Kenny

          Like most of the squad they have a few games where they do well then fade away, you don`t get quality players for nothing these days.

  • fistsofsteel2

    Most of shelveys Hollywood passes fail. People criticise Perez, but the p ass of the game against Man U was Perez’s long ball to set Atsu up. Perez also slotted another great ball in to create a chance. Perez battled back consistently against Man U…winning possession back numerous times. The bias against Perez on this site is tantamount to racism. Certain people here should hang their heads in shame – either that or they know sweet f all about football or what they are watching.
    And Shelvey is an overrated liability who imagines he’s better than he is. He is not a great passer of the ball…the fact that he has no assists this season, and the majority of his ‘Hollywood passes’ go astray or result in us losing possession should tell you that.

    • Wor Lass

      Perez does a lot of good things and I often speak up for him but he also does a lot that`s $hite – especially lying on the deck trying to blag a free kick game after game. He also needs to up his conversion rate. He hasn`t been the same player this season that he was towards the end of last season. One thing that Jonjo CAN do is pass a football.

      • fistsofsteel2

        I’m not claiming Perez is a genius, or the answer, but he scores as many as anybody else we have, fights back to regain possession, and is often in the right place. My beef is that he is consistently criticised on here, and is always marked down on player ratings. It is totally unwarranted and unjustified.

        • Kev Newcastle England

          And how often does Perez lose the ball in an attacking position resulting in fast breaking dangerous attacks against us? He is a liability and weak as pi*s.Said it for years regarding Shelvey he’s way above players around him,they just not on his level.

          • fistsofsteel2

            No more often than any of his team mates.

    • Kenny

      They fail because the front players can`t capitalise on them, time & time again. the NO assist are down to the strikers

      • TeessideMag

        He is usually the one to provide that first defence-splitting pass to get someone like yedlin through to the byline, with yedlin cutting it back across goal.. In that example yedlin would get the assist but Shelvey creates the initial opening

  • Don’t think we can sell Shelvey to a Prem club. He’s on 90 a week and nobody will pay 20m for him.
    Shelvey just isn’t a team player. He wants to get the glory and wants his name in the papers. Not to mention getting frustrated really easy after a few failed passes/shots on goal.
    Against Man U he was on the pitch for 40 mins and got frustrated after 20 and his composure and discipline went out the door.

  • TeessideMag

    I like Jonjo, but his attitude is worse than Mitro’s and look what happened there. I reckon if rafa was able to bring in a replacement with as much creativity he would, but obviously that costs money he doesn’t get.

  • 45709

    Shelvey that said he’s the best player in the England squad… despite not getting picked… shelvey that’s so good (his words) doesn’t care he’d win the World Cup and be the best England player cause he’s focused on nufc…

    Not sure what he’s focused on at Newcastle Like

    I’ll fix the problem release/sell the squad sadly that’ll cost too much even for new benevolent owners

  • toonterrier

    Get a new owner in then build the team around Shelvey and see how good he can be in the right setup. He’s got the skill but not the players to take advantage of it.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    He has all the ability in the world but has a fragile psyche and lack of work rate that are always going to stop him becoming a top player.
    Before he signed for us Swansea’s fans were having a go at him for the same reasons and probably the same reasons he never made it at Liverpool.
    I also think his game is not suited to The Premiership at times because he wants far too much time on the ball which you do not get in this league.
    He would be amazing in The Spanish League for instance which would suit his Quarterback style of play.

    At this moment in time though he is somewhat of a luxury player that unfortunately doesn’t help Newcastle in the current plight they find themselves in.

  • Sumit Sengupta

    I think there are several factors. He has the skill and talent but at the same time, he is not disciplined and hard working all the time. He can lift the players around him with his skills but seems not interested in doing so. He switches off too often after a few flashes of brilliance.

    What I feel is that he is in the process of giving up, at least presently. He may think that the guys around him are not up to the mark, he may have lost his faith in club or the management. Maybe the national team snub bears heavily on his mind, making him somewhat hopeless about the future.

    I don’t know how the club will deal with this. Some exceptional man-management is needed. He is a good player and can be very useful for the club.